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tv   Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs  CNN  May 10, 2017 2:00am-3:01am PDT

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director james comey continues right now. and that breaking news the bedrock of our democracy under siege. fbi director investigating links between russia and aides to the president fired by the president. what's next for the fbi? the russia probe? and why the timing? why now as everyone asking questions. good morning everybody welcome to "early start". i'm dave briggs. >> i'm christine romans. it's wednesday, may 10th. 5:00 a.m. in the east. we're so glad you're here this morning. hard to overstate the smaug and far reaching impact of president trump's decision to fire james comey. there's mounting criticism of that decision from all sides and calls are growing louder from democrats for a special prosecutor now that the president has fired the man leading the investigation into possible collusion between trump
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aides and the russians. now house democrats are asking for the preservation of all documents related to that probe and to comey's firing. >> the fbi director's unceremonious termination cokes of wear gate. president acting on advice from attorney general jeff sessions and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein who cited comey's handling of the hillary clinton earn mail probe. that certainly was not the focus of the letter president trump penned to comey firing him. which was more about trump than it was about comey. >> that abrupt letter never made to it comey before he learned of his own termination from tv monitors at the fbi office in l.a. that's where he learned about his own firing. our coverage begins this morning with jessica schneider here in new york. let's start with the trump letter on james comey. let's read it. while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under
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investigation, i nerve the less encourage the judgment of thedom doj that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. the president himself mentions the russian investigation. >> that's the interesting thing. he disconnect in the explanations in these three separate letters. we have that memo from rod rosenstein. two and a half page letter. it really goes into the details of how fbi director comey in the justice department's view mishandled this investigation into hillary clinton's e-mail server. then, of course, there's the additional letter from attorney general jeff sessions to president trump talking about his recommendation that yes, in fact, fbi director comey should be terminated and then the president's letter, the president's letter is very short. directly to director comey and it does, in fact, merely reference the fact that donald trump in his view was not under investigation, he said he was
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told that multiple times by director comey. a bit of a disconnect in those letters. we know how it all unfolded yesterday beginning at 5:00 p.m. sort of under the darkness of night even though it was only the early evening. the director of value office operations arrived at the fbi headquarters in washington, d.c. with that manila envelope that contained that letter from president trump. fbi director comey was not at fbi headquarters. he was at the fbi field office in los angeles talking with some of the staff there. and he learned of his termination by actually watching and seeing it unfold on television. we understand that once he began seeing that on television he tried to make light of the situation. joking around. of course he abruptly left tha meeting. the way this went down because this has been unfolding over at least the past week. we know president trump has been
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talking about this, working with the justice department, and we do know perhaps as long ago as two weeks ago when deputy attorney general rod rosenstein confirmed, assumed his position on april 26th, perhaps this was in the work. this disconnect between the letter that or the memo that rod rosenstein wrote talking about mishandling of the hillary clinton investigation and trump referencing the russian investigation. >> the letter from trump, rod rosenstein memo, what we heard from sean spicer briefly in the press room the why now seems to be the biggest question. when you take that all into account what's your best guess as to why do this right now? what's their reasoning? >> well it really seems to be that president trump wanted to fire director comey, and this memo by rod rosenstein dated yesterday. so really there didn't seem tube lot of lag time. this happened in rapid fire
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succession. it's interesting given all the news events of the past few days, just yesterday when it came out that director comey misspoke when he said hundred and thousands of emails that huma abedin had manually forward her husband. we're going back to this clinton e-mail investigation. hard to decipher exactly what may have sparked this, led to this, so many thing swirling whether it's the clinton e-mail investigation, the russian probe. we do know, however, that the white house and the justice department have been at odds with the fbi in recent weeks. the white house wants the fbi to focus more on the investigation of leaks into classified information to the media whereas the fbi had continued russia probe. so, really, a disconnect between the doj and the fbi and the white house. >> great reporting. thanks. cnn has learned ksenior
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officials did not think it would trigger such a reaction. listen to anderson cooper questioning kellyanne conway about the timing of the firing. >> you don't think it looks odd at all that the president of the united states is firing the guy who is leading the investigation into the president's white house and the people around the president? >> well, let me repeat the president has been told by fbi director he's not under investigation. >> clearly, this white house is under investigation, the people around the president. they are under investigation. you would agree with that. >> no, i don't. i know that some are obsessed -- >> james comey said there's an ongoing investigation. >> the president is not under investigation. i'm not under investigation. i can name many people in that same situation. but i know everybody wants to -- >> you're saying there's no investigation by the fbi that's ongoing right now into the people around the united states? >> i don't know that.
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but i'm saying to the extent that any of that is true, the president himself -- excuse me -- is not subject to investigation. are you talking about the folks who are involved in the campaign? >> yeah. >> you said the people around the president. people who were -- >> some of them may still be around the president. i don't know exactly who is being investigated. >> again, you want this to be about russia when this is about restoring confidence and integrity at the fbi. >> you want this to be about restoring confidence in the fbi. many people believe this doesn't restore confidence in the fbi. a lot of people are raising questions about it destroys people's confidence in the fbi, that whoever the president appoints will now be in charge of an investigation into people who have been close to the president during the campaign. any potential collusion with russia.
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>> today's actions had zero to do with that. deputy fbi director andrew mccabe the acting director of the fbi. he's also under investigation. the justice department inspector general looking at whether mccabe himself had been recused from certain aspects of the clinton e-mail investigation. just a little context here. there was broad bipartisan criticism of james comey's handling of the hillary clinton emails. president trump was not among that criticism, never once, not one critical word of his releasing, making that press conference. jeff sessions praised her actions on fox business network. so those are the two people at the center of this never a single critical word. >> that comey fire a remarkable morning. met with harsh response from across the political spectrum. more on that and what's in store for the russian investigation. and his meeting today between
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james comey was fired for being too mean to hillary clinton? does anyone believe that? could anyone believe that? this is an investigator who is investigating the white house. and he was just fired by the white house. this doesn't happen in the united states. our very own jeff toobin one example of the one reaction the comey firing. for more on the future trump russian investigation i want to bring in zach wolf and cnn legal analyst, a civil rights attorney in los angeles. let me get your perspective this morning. your reaction this morning to what has been pretty much, except for lindsey graham bipartisan blow back to this firing. >> i think like most of the
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pundits that we've seen for the last 12 hours on television is absolute shock that the sitting fbi director is removed by the president when there is the epic investigation going on of interference into the american election of 2016 and ties between trump's associates and people in his campaign and their collusion, potential collusion with russians. to have him removed the timing is suspicious. the slaination is unbelievable and absurd, really to think that comey is being removed because of the way he handled the clinton e-mail investigation. hard to support the explanations that we're hearing coming from the trump team and his administration. >> that's in part because of -- let's play some of the way donald trump spoke about comey and the way he handled the hillary clinton emails in the
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past. listen. >> and i have to give the fbi credit, it took guts for director comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had when they were trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. good job by the fbi. i have respect that the fbi has given her a second chance. i disagreed with him. i was not his fan. i'll tell you what, what he did brought back his reputation. a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. what he did was the right thing. >> this is a stunning amount of hypocrisy. why now? >> pretty remarkable turn around when you listen to those things he said about comey before the election. honestly nothing has changed with regard to hillary clinton
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since then. so the idea that you would be using that investigation as an excuse to fire comey is kind of the most remarkable part of this. i think why now, there was the excuse of comey misstating that, you know, the number of emails that were forwarded from huma abedin to anthony weiner, but i don't think anybody is talking about that. it doesn't make any sense as a reason to fire the fbi director especially when the consequences for it, the blow back for it is going to be so much more epically larger than any of that. >> that's what's so crazy. our dana bash reporting they didn't tape blow back which is another political miscalculation. >> they assumed democrats would support this because they have been critical of comey. even republicans, six republican senators very critical of the timing here. susan colins is one who supported it. she said inevitable conclusion
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how comey handled the emails but also said patently absurd this will obstruct the russian investigation. is it patently absurd to suggest now the russian investigation is compromised? >> that statement is absurd. clearly this investigation has been compromised. the pressure coming from this white house, the interference by this white house and the department of justice raises serious doubts about the independence of the department of justice. look, of course, the career prosecutors will come to work today. they will continue the job that has been given to them which is this investigation. but when the head person at the fbi has been removed from the white house while this investigation is clearly getting to some critical points is going to impact the morale of the fbi, going to impact southeast decision-making that happens by those career prosecutors. we're at a critical juncture at this investigation and i believe now more than ever the need for this independent prosecutor has
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been established. trump's actions suggest that this department of justice cannot act independently. >> you know, you got the senate intel chairman he issued a statement troubled by the timing and reasoning of director comey's termination. what's interesting about that the senate intel committee is in the midst of doing an awful -- >> he's a staunch trump supporter. >> federal prosecutors have grand jury subpoenas, right, for associates of michael flynn to look into the timing of his financial activities around the time of taking those payments from russia. there are investigations under way here. does this have a chilling effect on any of that? >> well, i think actually what's interesting to me is that democrats have been calling for a special counsel or special commission or a committee, something independent for a long time. there was no way that was going
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to happen because republicans control the senate and control t the attorney general's office. republicans on capitol hill are talking more publicly or at least not sounding quite so cold about the idea of a special counsel. it could be the irony of this is this could be the thing that threads that. >> let me read to you the trump letter on comey. quote while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation i encourage the department of justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. as to that first part three separate occasions informing me i'm not under investigation if that is, in fact, true is that improper? >> that's a very bizarre statement and something we've been looking at as the story is unfolding. why is the president referencing comments made by james comey to him? why is he attempting to exx
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exonorrate himself. it raising concerns whether this investigation is related to the handling of the emails by james comey or if it's related really to this russian investigation. was the fbi getting too close to information that would be damaging to trump's administration that could have possibly led to criminal charges being filed against people in his orbit? all of that is suggested in that letter. at the same time the president is saying, i'm firing you based on the recommendations of the department of justice that has to do with clinton, he's making references to the russian investigation. >> all right. it is just all very bizarre and shocking. come back in a few minutes and talk about this some more. we have plenty more on the dismissal of the fbi director james comey and the president's rationale for it. u.s. job openings are at a record high. a record high for job option.
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the labor market is humming. 5.7 million job openings. jolts tracks the pace of firing, hiring and quitting. employees are quitting at a faster rate. it shows workers are finding new, better jobs. however experts say that many job openings, 5.7 million job openings also confirms a lack of skilled workers. that's a gap between the skills
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employers want and the skills job-seekers have. that gap sholgd down overall wage growth a major reason why many americans feel left out of the recovery. you're an electrician or carpenter you're seeing the double of the average wage growth. big demand. are you qualified? >> not at all. i wish i had some skill. >> i won't give you a hammer and have you come to my house. the future of the russian investigation niends of millions today. what's in store now that the president has fired the man leading the probe?what's in sto president has fired the man leading the probe?
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a truly stunning. development rocking the foundation of american government. president trump fires the fbi director investigating russia's ties to trump's aides. this morning demands for a special prosecutor amid growing
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doubts over the direction the future of the russian investigation. welcome back to "early start". i'm christine romans. >> i'm dave briggs. it's 30 minutes past the hour on another stunning day in the political scene in this country. was james comey fired as the fbi director for his handseling of the clinton e-mail investigation as the white house claims, or something else? this morning the reality for the bureau and the white house is this. russia probe is alive without anyone to lead it and the president of the united states is taking serious heat from both sides of the aisle for a move that stunned the nation and at minimum raises some serious questions about why this move came at this time. >> democratic calls for a special prosecutor on the russia probe grow louder this morning. house democrats are now asking for the preservation of all documents related to russia and to comey's firing. the fbi director's unceremonious termination with memories of
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watergate. >> rod rosenstein cited clinton's handseling of the hillary clinton e-mail probe not once mentioning russia. trump on the other hand certainly had russia on his mind when he penned the letter to tell comey he was out of a job. comey actually learned of his own termination from tv monitors at the fbi office in l.a. our coverage begins this morning with our own jessica schneider who is here in new york. great to have you here this morning on this stunning story. we'll get to how this went down in a moment because this is a head scratcher like everything else. how do we get here? >> tensions have been building between white house and justice department on one side and the fbi on the other. we know that for the past several weeks the justice department has really been making a push to the fbi to really investigate the leaks that have been coming out. president trump has repeatedly talked about these leaks,
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classified information pushing for more action on that side. while the fbi has been pursuing that line of investigation they also have been equally pursuing the russian probe. that may have ruffled some feathers at the white house. attorney general jeff sessions as well. we know those tensions have been mounting for the past few weeks. the question is the straw that broke the camel's back. why did this happen now? part of what led to this in the past 24 hours director comey has been a bit under fire for some misstatements he made last week before the senate judiciary committee. perhaps the white house seized on those questions about director comey's credibility for a misstatement he made regarding huma abedin and he had said last week that she had forwarded manually hundreds and thousands of emails when we know, in fact, we learned this months ago, in fact, a lot of those e-mail sent to her then husband's anthony weiner's computer were done by
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automatic back up. yesterday the fbi issuing clarification, perhaps the white house seedsed on this used that opportunity to put these plans in motion. >> official word from the white house this has nothing to do with the russian investigation. but the president in his letter mentioned the russian investigation. while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions i'm not under investigation i encourage the decision by the department of justice you can't effectively lead if bureau. the department of justice led by attorney general jeff sessions who has recused himself from the russia investigation which the president has mentioned in that very letter. clearly in front of his mind. >> it's in the front of the president's mind. within the first sentence or two of this very short letter to director comey. quite a disconnect between what president trump sent in his letter to comey between the memo that deputy attorney general rod rosenstein wrote. he focused his memo on the
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mishandling of the clinton e-mail investigation by director comey. we saw this all unfold during the election season. he talked about how it was inappropriate for director comey to hold that press conference back in july, to go above the head of attorney general loretta lynch, take matters in his own hands and call hillary clinton's behavior. it's a dash of irony here because, of course, rod rosenstein now deputy attorney general at the justice department working on behalf of the trump administration, he's now railing against how director comey handled this whereas president trump then candidate trump on the campaign trail praised the way director comey handled this and talked about the victory, talking about the clinton e-mail investigation. >> it's unbelievable. >> first stunning 100 days. >> a lot of dots to connect. >> rod rosenstein clear this is about the handseling of the clinton e-mail robe.
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is anybody criticizing his characterization how comey hand told emails? >> interestingly, in this two and a half page memo rod rosenstein cited several people. he talked about how they also criticized james comey's handling of this investigation. we do know in just the past few hours it was donald ire, deputy attorney general under president h.w. bush, he called this reasoning a sham. he said it was a complete sham that they are using this investigation of the clinton e-mail server as their cover to fire director comey. so at least one person cited as being behind this decision in this memo from rod rosenstein, saying no this is all just a cover. obviously something else behind this firing. >> it's also cloak and dagger. we have this video of the president's body man delivering the letter to fbi in the manila envelope. >> knowing comey was out of town. >> comey was not there. he's watching the news later on
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television. in the fbi offices in california. >> what's so interesting the man you're seeing there keith schiller he has been a long time confidant, body man, security guard for president trump dating back to 199. on the campaign trail people talked about how he was one of president trump or candidate trump's closest confidant. he was dispatched to give this letter to director comey at the fbi headquarters. of course director comey was out in l.a. at the field office talking to staff. >> thank you so much. nice to see you. another busy day here in washington. indeed. on capitol hill comey's firing met with shock across the political spectrum. republicans expressing a range of concerns. many of them focused on the timing of the dismissal months into trump's term and a year after comey's news conference on the clinton e-mail. bob corker one of six republicans critical of the timing saying his removal at
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this particular time will raise questions. >> senator flake tweeting i spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable ration rationale firing. i can't do it. lindsay graham voiced support. >> as did susan collins. on the other side of the aisle democrats largely unified in calls for a special prosecutor. here was senate minority leader chuck schumer last night. >> this investigation must be run as far away as possible from this white house and as far away as possible from anyone that president trump has appointed. >> president trump ready to fire back on twitter. quote crying chuck schumer stated recently i do not have confidence in james comey any longer.
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then act so indignant. hash tag drain the swamp. >> cnn learned federal prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former national security adviser michael flynn. they are seeking flynn's business records from colleagues who worked with him on contracts. this signals a significant -- these subpoenas a significant escalation of activity in the fbi investigation into possible ties between the trump campaign and russia. investigators have been examining how flynn handled disclosures about payments he received from clients to foreign governments including russia and turkey. attorneys for flynn declining to comment. comey firing met with harsh sfro response from across the political spectrum. what's in store for the russian investigation next. tasty textures cats gotta have. friskies. for cats. by cats.
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james comey was fired for being too mean to hillary clinton? does anyone believe that? could anyone believe that? this is an investigator who is investigating the white house. and he was just fired by the white house. this doesn't happen in the united states. just did. jeffrey toobin called it a grotesque abuse of power. one example of the outrage across the country from the comey firing. for more from the response on capitol hill let's bring in zach wolf managing editor and cnn legal analyst aretha martin a civil rights attorney in los angeles. great to have you here on this
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very important morning. let's go back as we have so often and listen to what donald trump said campaigning about james comey's handling of the hillary clinton e-mail probe. listen. >> i have to give the fbi credit it took james comey to make when they tried to protect her from criminal prosecution. good job by the fbi. i have respect that the fbi has given her a second chance. i really disagreed with him. i was not his fan. i'll tell you what. what he did, he brought back his reputation. because there's a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. what he did was the right thing. >> that's not all. attorney general jeff sessions on fox fbi director comey did the right thing when he found
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evidence he had no choice but to report it to the american congress. how do we reconcile that turn of events this morning. >> it's incredible. you know, from a hypocrisy standpoint just the idea of saying those things before the election and then turning around and firing the guy for essentially those things, you know, the things that he used to praise him for is remarkable, one of the more remarkable things about this. i don't understand how they reconcile the two. i would love to hear donald trump explain this. we haven't seen him in a couple of days. i don't think we'll see him today. he needs to get out there and talk to the american people about this. and tell them why he did this. >> he's not had a public event for five days. sixth day. he has a meeting with sergei lavrov the foreign minister of russia with secretary of state rex tillerson. that's on the agenda here today. we heard from him lasted night in a tweet about 10:00 where he slammed chuck schumer. chuck schumer is calling for a
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special prosecutor. the president said this, crying chuck schumer stated recently i do not have confidence in him, james comey. that's all we heard from donald trump. we have heard from the team clinton. pretty much universal condemnation for this firing. they are no fan of james comey. hillary clinton herself just recently said that if the election happened on october 27th the day before, you know, comey's public statements that she would have won the white house. we heard from brian fallon last night. >> the timing and the nature of this firing that the trump administration is announcing now belies any possible explanation this has anything to do with the clinton investigation. the only thing i think could have further deteriorated confidence and eroded faith in the confidence in the fbi of
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james comey remaining there is firing james comey. now donald trump has done that. >> twilight zone. i was as disappointed and frustrated as anyone as how the e-mail investigation was handled. but this terrifies me. are you surprised by the reaction from the clinton team? >> not at all. all things legal are not expedient. legally donald trump had the authority to fire james comey. even though barack obama had appointed him to a ten year term, the president, the sitting president has the authority to fire the fbi director. but what's so stunning about this is when you look at the timing, as we've been talking about, and the explanation it's employment law 101. if you're firing someone because of their performance you want to make sure that that termination occurs close in time to the actions giving rise to the termination. if the termination is related to what happened in terms of the investigation of hillary clinton's emails back during the
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2016 campaign you would have expected to see from the department of justice a memorandum, close in time to that recommending his termination. not for that to come 110 days into the trump administration and also what's troubling to me as a lawyer is how this termination breaks with the protocol of the department of justice. we didn't get a legal brief, we didn't get case law that was cited, we didn't get precedent. we get a memo, two and a half page memo quoting campaign literature from the trump campaign. things you can google. we didn't get the kind of robust legal analysis you would expect for a decision that has the gravity of the decision of firing the sitting fbi director. >> and bipartisan criticism of the firing of james comey specifically the timing, six republican senators question the timing. say this further comply indicates the investigation. susan collins a very moderate
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senator said this was the inevitable conclusion in the way james comey handle the clinton e-mail probe. and absurd to suggestion this obstructs the russian investigation. where does it go from here? might we see a special investigator, a special counsel, if you will. >> if you asked me yesterday afternoon if we would see a special prosecutor or counsel of some kind i would have said absolutely not because republicans control the senate and, you know, the attorney general's office. if you're going to have that you need somebody from one of those two bodies on board with it. i think this move of firing comey if anything this could start the sort of dominos in that direction. we'll have to see what happens, obviously it will be a while before we get there. outcry will have to grow even more to force that hand, i think. nice to see both this morning. thank you for your insight bright and early. thank you. >> so many questions.
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time for at that look on what's coming up on "new day" with chris cuomo. so many questions. you wonder when james comey will have his opportunity to tell his side of the story. what's your biggest question this morning? >> well, that's a good question in and of itself. i tell you what i know as opposed to what i need to ask this morning is that we have to be very careful about staying focused on the facts of what happened and what it means for the administration of justice going forward. this is an easy opportunity for pundits to really get their outrage on and partisanship about it. that's understandable given something that's okcataclysmi cp good discussion you were just having about special prosecutors. no question that's what congress has to do. this success compared to nixon.
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nixon did not dismiss the director of the fbi. that's something that's being misreported. he got rid of a special prosecutor. plenty controversial. today we're going to take you through why the white house says this happened. we're going to test that explanation. we're going to talk about what has to happen going forward to secure the administration of justice. that's the only thing that matters to the democracy. everything else is politics. we'll have a lot of big names on. we have white house counselor kellyanne conway to talk about it. three senators involved in these main investigations into russia's role in election meddling. we got senators an gus king, richard blumenthal and lindsey graham. they will tell us what they see as next. remember the president said he'll unite people. he did it but did it in a way i think he didn't want to. you have democrats and republicans that are united airlines and concerned about this. we have former attorney general gonzalez on.
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we got condoleezza rice on. we'll give you both ailsles. so what happens next? >> looking forward to it. to chris' point about nixon. president nixon never fired the director of the fbi. that was tweeted 30,000 times last night. >> he got rid of the person who was investigating. >> remember that's what that statute was all about. that expired in '99. we needed to remove it from political pressure. so when he did that you could argue it was equally controversial. >> all right. chris cuomo nice to see you this morning. you got a lot of big interviews up there. democratic lawmakers want to investigate a noted investor of the president's special adviser carl icahn. big questions there. cnn's money stream is next. she's cute too! yea! how did i miss her? you didn't. match picked it up for you.
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let's get a check on money stream this morning. futures most liz lly lower afte street barely moved, but nasdaq another record high close. dow and s&p closed lower. democratic lawmakers want the s.e.c. to investigate whether trump friend carl icahn broke securities trading laws. it has to do with a small oil refinery. it bet against something called biofuel credits. epa regulations require refineries to buy them. the prices plunged after icahn and trade group presented the white house a plan to revamp those very epa regulations. democratic lawmakers argue the resulting profits could be insider trading. no comment from eye kicoey icah. and "new day" starts right now. >> we want to welcome our
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viewers in the united states and around the world. this is "new day," it's 6:00 here in new york and we begin with breaking news. president trump has fired fbi director james comey. the timing and rationale for the abrupt termination for his handli handling of the clinton probe, that's what we're told, this is all puzzling. there are two main questions. why would the president fire the man investigating whether miss campaign colluded with russia during the 2016 election? and perhaps even bigger question is who among our leaders will step forward to secure the administration of justice in you're democracy. >> many republicans growing the joining calls to have an independent probe while democrats are drawing parallels to nixon and watergate, all of this as cnn learns that federal prosecutors have are issued subpoenas to associates of michael flynn in the fbi's investigation into russian meddling in the u.s. election. we have every angle of this huge story covered for you, so let's
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begin with cnn's joe johns. he is live at the white house. joe. >> reporter: good morning. this morning the white house is in unchartered territory as the administration continues to try to justify the president's firing of the man leading the investigation into the president's campaign as well as russian interference in the election that brought donald trump to the white house. president trump attributing his bombshell firing of fbi director james comey to comey's handling ever t of the hillary clinton e-mail investigation, a stunning reversal given trump's repeated praise of comey for how he managed that very investigation. >> i respect the fact that director comey was able to come back after what he did. it took guts for director comey to make the move

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